Check it Out : Ritani Weds Something Old and Something New to Create Retail SuccessJanuary 2013 By Caitlin Sullivan
For about a decade, the debate over retailing methods has been a heated one. On one hand, e-commerce has dominated, with the so-called "internet age" providing shoppers convenience, 24-hour service and typically the lowest prices. These advantages will almost always trump a physical storefront. But recently consumers have responded to back-to-basic techniques such as personalization and knowledgeable in-store customer service. So what happened when one retailer married both old brick-and-mortar techniques with the new virtual and online channels? Click-and-bricks retailing.
Last October, fine jewelry retailer Ritani debuted a "clicks-and-bricks" strategy to bring together the best aspects of both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar to create an "all encompassing" shopping experience that provides its visitors a detailed online shopping experience. Some of the features include a 360° view of engagement rings and diamonds from Ritani's "online geologist," the ability to choose a loose diamond from one of Ritani's 380 partner retail outlets, and content that educates shoppers about the "four Cs" of diamond selection (cut, color, clarity and carat weight). Yet these are features most other online jewelers offer as well.
Most brides-to-be would like to try on the ring before it's purchased, so Ritani took it a step further. It created a "see in store" feature that allows the customer to create up to two one-of-a-kind engagement rings online and have them both shipped overnight to the closest local participating retail outlet, where the soon-to-be-bride can try them on in-store the next day.
If the shopper decides they don't want to purchase the custom-made ring, it's not a problem. They're under no obligation to buy the ring; Ritani will take it back to one of its locations. Since the wholesaler manufactures its own jewelry, it can afford to take a larger hit than an independent retailer can.
"By offering an exceptional e-commerce experience that's integrated with the country's premier local jewelers, Ritani puts the customer in complete control and inspires confidence in their purchase decision," said Brian Watkins, president of Ritani, in a company press release.
The clicks-and-bricks strategy has proven effective at increasing Ritani's social reach as well. The jewelry wholesaler currently has 1,700 Twitter followers, 700,000 Facebook fans and 1,500 Pinterest followers. What's particularly unique about Ritani's omnichannel strategy is rather than opening its own brick-and-mortar stores, the company has chosen to partner with multiple local jewelers around the country. Ritani feels its clicks-and-bricks strategy helps its retail partners create a personal connection with consumers by having them view the jewelry in-store.
"We'll continue to expand our integrated partner network of high-end local jewelers, all of whom earn revenue on every online Ritani transaction, to help customers everywhere experience the ideal way to shop for diamond jewelry," Watkins says.
By allowing local retailers to operate as an affiliate, the retailers make commission on sales from customers located in their geographical area, regardless of whether the customer visits their storefront.